Sunday September 6th, 2015

The exercise:

The Colony. Installment nine. Let's go.

Pretty mellow day off, featuring family time for the most of it. First thing this morning there was some smoke in the air, yet again, but thankfully that cleared up before lunch time thanks to a light breeze blowing in the right direction.

Remind me to share a picture of Max tomorrow. It's a good one.


We hogtie Patrick and Melina and drag them into my quarters. Robbie almost looks like he wants to give each of them a kick but we leave them on the floor untouched as we continue the search that I had begun before hearing those two yelling and pounding at my door.

Within minutes we have confirmed what I had already begun to suspect: everyone else is still locked in their rooms. Patrick, Melina, and Vassily are the only exceptions.

Which means Vassily is the only member of our crew whose location is currently unaccounted for.

"Do you think he's still in his quarters?" Robbie asks, his voice muffled by the breathing mask. It's difficult to read his expression with that thing on. He could be scared or excited. Both, probably.

"Seems like as good a place as any to look for him." I turn my head to look in the direction of his room but otherwise remain still. "You up for this?"

"He was going to kill me in my sleep." I don't know how true that is but I think that, for now, I need it to be true for him. "Yeah, I'm ready."

We move slowly, stopping to listen at the closed doors of the kitchen and showers and conference room. Just in case. When we reach the final corner that will take us the last twenty feet to the Commander's quarters we hesitate. Okay, I hesitate. Robbie bumps into me.

"Sorry," he whispers.

"It's okay."

"Are uh... are you ready for this?"

Ready for what, exactly? Are we going to kill him? Is he armed? Are we waltzing straight into a trap?

"Of course."

My heart is racing as we tiptoe down the hall. I blink away sweat from my eyes, suddenly wishing I was carrying more than just a coil of rope. Weapon options are surprisingly limited when nearly everything is bolted down and you're packing as lightly as possible when departing your home planet.

Unless you're a traitorous Commander, that is. Then there's always room for extra equipment. Weapons, too?

Five feet to go. I'm about to tell Robbie to let me do the talking when the door to Vassily's quarters wooshes open. My heart feels like it tries to escape from my chest. My brain tells my body to raise my hands but I'm frozen in place. We are going to die. We are going to die. We are g-

"I don't think he's in here," Robbie says. Somehow he is standing in the doorway ahead of me. How did he get there? Shouldn't he be behind me?


"His breathing mask is gone." Robbie looks disappointed. "He could be anywhere."

"He could be... I'm an idiot." Robbie looks confused but before he can say anything more I speak the words I should have spoken precious minutes earlier. "Computer? Locate Commander Vassily please."

The nearest monitor lights up and moments later green text appears like magic.

Commander Vassily is no longer in the compound.


Greg said...

Oh wow, a long installment from you! Cool, nice to know where we are; Vassily's gone, everyone's pretty much accounted for – excluding whoever it is Vassily is working with, I guess – and our crew finally have some idea of what's going on. I can't say for certain that they're going to survive yet, but I'd say they have a decent chance at last!
Well, let's see where that all takes us now then :)

I'm not much good with knots, but I wrap the rope as tightly around Melina as I dare and hope she chokes. I kind of want to hurt her for the way she was talking about me, but I think that might not be a good idea with Eliza watching me. i stand on her hair when Eliza looks away though. Then we go and look for Vassily, and I hope Eliza knows what she's doing. I've got no idea what we'd do with three tied up people once we've done this, so I hope Eliza does. She's got a determined look on her face though, and she keeps chewing her bottom lip, so I figure she's got a plan. I kind of hope it involves going home now. This isn't being much fun any more.
When Eliza starts swearing I know things have gone bad and I look around Vassily's quarters for somewhere to hide. Then Eliza says, "He's not in the compound any more. The computer can't find him."
"My jeep!" I say. Eliza scrunches up her face and peers at me like I'm a dog that's learned how to talk. "The rover," I say, making myself slow down. My dad, before the stupid Alzheimer's got him, used to kneel in front of me and put his hands on my shoulders and tell me to take a deep breath and slow down at times like this. I can pretend he's here. Even though he isn't. "Vassily must have taken my rover, or he'd have to walk."
"Right," says Eliza. "I'm not walking down there though when we can check from here. Computer! Show me the rover garage please."
The screen changes and there's the rover, still sitting in the garage. It looks fine, and I feel my heartrate slow down a bit. I really didn't want Vassily having my rover.
"So where did Vassily go?" asks Eliza, but I get the feeling she's not asking me. I don't think she was asking the Computer either, but the screens obligingly change anyway. Numbers appear at the top of the screen; they don't make sense to me, but Eliza frowns. "8 minutes ago?" she says. We can see Meanie and Patrick lying in Eliza's quarters and then a shadow falls over them. A moment later and Vassily appears. He leans over Patrick and does something, and when he stands back up Patrick's got a dark line around his throat that's widening. Eliza gasps, but I don't understand what the problem is. The Vassily kicks Melina's head like I'd kick a football; guess she was mean to everyone. He's got something in his hand, I see now, and then I realise that he's stabbing her in the chest. Four, five times... she must have been really mean to him. I have to turn away now, my stomach's churning and I want to throw up.
"Freeze-frame," says Eliza, though it sounds like she's a long way away. Everything's going a bit dark around the edges. "That's a quantum communicator, Robbie. He must be getting picked up by whoever was here on this planet before us."
I throw up.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, this seems to be the time of year when pieces get longer for me. Feeling the pressure of the December deadline and wanting to get as much story in as possible I guess.

Really like how protective of his rover Robbie is, that's a nice touch. And I see that Vassily is not the squeamish sort, nor is he hesitant to cut ties, as it were, when necessary.

Now the only question is... does he get away before our two (three?) heroes can stop him.

Well, two questions remain really. The other being... just who is coming to pick him up?